Poonch Assembly seat is now open, Rajouri reserved; Suchetgarh restored but goes to SCs

Habbakadal is back, Mughal Maidaan renamed

RS Pura merged with Jammu South, Kot Circle incorporated in North

4 Panchayats shifted from TM to Rajouri, Sangaldan to Banihal

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Feb 25: The Delimitation Commission has opened Poonch Assembly segment and instead reserved Rajouri for Scheduled Tribes (STs) and merged parts of RS Pura with Jammu South seat to rename it as RS Pura-JS (Jammu South) while restoring Suchetgarh and Habbakadal constituencies. However, Suchetgarh has been reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) going by the population criteria.
The Panel has also redrawn boundaries of several other Assembly segments including Poonch, Mendhar, Surankote, Thanna Mandi, Rajouri, Banihal, Marh, Jammu North etc and reversed the name of Mughal Maidaan seat of Kishtwar as Inderwal.
Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai has rejected the BJP suggestion for inclusion of Shopian in Anantnag-Poonch Parliamentary constituency. It has also overruled the National Conference objection to inclusion of Poonch district and parts of Rajouri district in South Kashmir Parliamentary segment.
The Commission has, however, accepted the BJP suggestion for de-reservation of at least one Assembly seat in Poonch district as all three constituencies there were reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Accordingly, the Commission has de-reserved Poonch-Mandi constituency and declared it as general seat.
In place of Poonch, Rajouri Main Assembly constituency has been reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Now, five seats reserved for STs in Jammu region are Surankote and Mendhar in Poonch district and Rajouri, Darhal and Thanna Mandi in Rajouri district. Four seats are reserved for STs in Kashmir division, totaling nine.
The Commission has yielded to massive protests for restoration of Suchetgarh Assembly constituency in Jammu district which had been merged in RS Pura and Bishnah in the draft report submitted to five Associate Members on February 4.
Though Suchetgarh seat has been restored, it was reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in place of RS Pura.
Parts of RS Pura have been merged with Jammu South Assembly seat (earlier known as Gandhi Nagar or Cantonment) and the segment now has been renamed as RS Pura-Jammu South (RS Pura-JS).
Earlier, RS Pura was reserved for SCs and there was uproar as it was reserved since 1996 and four Assembly elections had been held since then in erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. Out of seven seats reserved for SCs in the previous Assembly, six were de-reserved by the Commission in the draft report while the Panel kept RS Pura reserved again. However, RS Pura-JS is now open seat and Suchetgarh is seventh constituency reserved for SCs. Six others are Marh, Akhnoor, Bishnah, Samba, Kathua South and Ramnagar.
Boundaries of Suchetgarh and RS Pura-JS have been readjusted by the Panel.
The Delimitation Commission is understood to have acceded to the suggestion of both National Conference and BJP to restore Habbakadal Assembly constituency in Srinagar district which has sizeable electorates of Kashmiri Pandits and rename Mughal Maidaan seat in Kishtwar district as Inderwal. The constituency was earlier also known as Inderwal and had been named as Mughal Maidaan in the draft report.
Kot Patwar Circle of Raipur Domana whose four Panchayats had been clubbed with Marh (SC Reserve) seat in the draft report have now been merged with Jammu North Assembly constituency.
Doongi, Suhana, Bagla and Fatehpur Panchayats which were part of newly created Thanna Mandi Assembly segment in Rajouri district have been clubbed with Rajouri Assembly seat as they were part of Rajouri tehsil.
Poonch Patwar Halqas of Mandi block which had been included in Surankote constituency in the draft report have again been made part of Poonch-Mandi segment. Similarly, some Halqas of Mendhar segment which were incorporated in Surankote have been reversed to Mendhar.
Sangaldan area has now been included in Banihal Assembly seat of Ramban district while Tangar belt of Banihal has been shifted to Ramban seat.
Sources said the Delimitation Commission is likely to meet five Associate Members and brief them about their suggestions/objections which have been accepted or rejected.
After the meeting, the Commission could put its report in public domain for inviting claims and objections.
Recently, the Government had extended term of the Delimitation Commission by two months and it has time up to May 6 to submit its recommendations for delimitation of 90 Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It has already given 47 seats to Kashmir division and 43 to Jammu region.
Headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai, the Commission comprised Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and State Election Commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma. It was set up on March 6, 2020.

5 MPs asked to give suggestions till March 4
The Delimitation Commission today submitted fresh draft report after entertaining suggestions/objections to five Associate Members in New Delhi seeking fresh claims from them on or before March 4.
The Panel gave report to five Associate Members including Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma, both BJP Lok Sabha members from Jammu and Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi, all three NC MPs from Kashmir.
The fresh draft report has admitted certain suggestions/ objections of the Associate members and rejected others.
After receiving fresh suggestions, the Panel is likely to put the report in public domain.